Passionate About Poppies

Passionate About Poppies

Marie Webster was an extraordinary woman. She was a quilt designer, businesswoman, and author of the first American book about quilting, Quilts, Their Story and How to Make Them, originally published in 1915 and reprinted many times, the latest being 2009.

It could be argued that Marie Webster singlehandedly set the Colonial Revival quilt period in motion with dozens of beautiful floral designs executed in pastel colors. These reflected the Arts & Crafts Movement of the early 1900’s but were often medallion designs with wonderful borders, harking back to some of the earliest quilt motifs in America.

Her designs appeared in the Ladies Home Journal, and she was asked to write articles about quilts. After many requests for her quilt patterns she published a catalog entitled “The New Patch-work Patterns.” She founded her own business, The Practical Patchwork Company, in 1921. Besides patterns, the company also sold partially completed quilts.

To honor the impact of this extraordinary entrepreneur, I selected her Poppy Quilt design from a quilt in my collection that was made in Ohio. On the reverse of the quilt is stated:

“Jessie Ringrose Carson to my daughter Margaret Carson Hunt 1930.”

As a native Californian, I am partial to this design as the poppy is our state flower. The original quilt is beautifully executed with tiny appliqué stitches and quilting at 13 – 14 stitches per inch.

The pattern for this quilt is in Marie Webster’s Garden of Quilts, by Rosalind Webster Perry and Marty Frolli. I reduced the pattern by 50% to fit the study quilt size criteria. This pattern first appeared in January 1912 in the Ladies Home Journal.

As I worked on the study quilt, I learned that Jessie Carson had made some changes to the poppies to make them easier to appliqué. So it seemed appropriate for me to make additional changes in the study quilt, redesigning one of the leaves to facilitate the appliqué work, and embroidering the stems to replicate the tiny poppy stems on the original quilt. I also tried to mirror the beautiful quilting on the original quilt, but Jessie’s stitches were far smaller than mine.

The beautiful appliqué designs from Marie Webster are timeless in their appeal. I thank her for her visionary work in carrying our quilt history forward.